chapter  7
22 Pages

Judging Chopin

An evaluation of musical experience
WithJohn Rink

This chapter traces what amounts to a ‘personal history’ in a given cultural and social context – one of the world’s leading piano competitions. The point of departure is Richard Taruskin’s observation that ‘the essential facts of human history’ are ‘statements and actions in response to real or perceived conditions’, which give rise to new conditions ‘in an endless chain of agency’. The chapter begins by interpreting select literature on autoethnography in the light of Joan Scott’s challenging claims about ‘the evidence of experience’, which in turn inform a case study of Rink John experiences as a member of the jury of the XVII International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, held in Warsaw in October 2015. It sheds light not only on how one evaluates musicians in action, but also on the narratives that they construct about music’s course in time and about musical experience in general.